Homemade Baklava

The Homemade Baklava Recipe This crispy Middle Eastern confection, filled with chopped nuts and spices and drenched with honey syrup, has long been a favorite.

Special equipment:
12 x 16in (30 x 40cm) baking dish
with deep sides
sugar thermometer (optional)

9oz (250g) shelled unsalted pistachios, coarsely
9oz (250g) walnut pieces, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
large pinch of ground cloves
1lb 2oz (500g) package of filo pastry
18 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup honey
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp orange flower water

1 Set aside 3–4 tablespoons of the chopped pistachios for decoration. Put the remainder in a bowl with the walnuts, 1⁄4 cup of the sugar, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir to mix.

2 Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lay a damp kitchen towel on a work surface, unroll the filo sheets on it, and cover with a second damp towel. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Brush the baking dish with a little butter. Take 1 sheet of filo and line the dish with it, folding over one end to fit.

3 Brush the filo with butter and gently press it into the corners and sides of the dish. Lay another sheet on top, brush it with butter, and press it into the dish as before. Continue layering the filo, buttering each sheet, until one-third has been used. Scatter half the nut filling over the top sheet.

4 Layer another third of the filo sheets as before, then sprinkle the remaining nut filling over it. Layer the remaining sheets in the same way. Trim off excess with a knife. Brush with butter and pour any remaining butter on top. With a small knife, cut diagonal lines, 1⁄2in (1cm) deep, in the filo to mark out 11⁄2in (4cm) diamond shapes. Do not press down when cutting.

5 Bake on a low rack for 11⁄4–11⁄2 hours, until golden. A skewer inserted in the center for 30 seconds should come out clean.

6 For the syrup, put the remaining sugar and 1 cup of water in a pan and heat until dissolved, stirring occasionally.

7 Pour in the honey and stir to mix. Boil for about 25 minutes without stirring, until the syrup reaches the soft ball stage, 239°F (115°C) on a sugar thermometer. To test the syrup without a thermometer, take the pan from the heat and dip a teaspoon in the hot syrup.

8 Let the syrup cool a few seconds, then take a little between your finger and thumb; it should form a soft ball.

9 Remove the syrup from the heat and let it cool to lukewarm. Add the lemon juice and orange flower water. Remove the dish from the oven and immediately pour the syrup
over the pastries. With a sharp knife, cut along the marked lines, almost to the bottom (see Baker’s Tip), then let the pastries cool.

10 Cut through the marked lines completely. Carefully lift out the pastries with a palette knife and arrange them on each dessert plate. Sprinkle the top of each pastry with the reserved chopped pistachios.

The pastries can be made 5 days before serving. Store in an airtight container; the flavor will mellow.

Filo pastry is very delicate, and can crumble slightly when cut. The syrup used in this recipe will help minimize this, but not stop it completely. Make sure you use a very sharp, slim blade to cut the baklava, and be sure to score it first, as instructed in the recipe, for the neatest looking baklava.

Homemade Baklava
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